Seeing as today in class we just talked about a similar word being 'world view' I can see the direction that this is going in, a change in social paradigm, or 'paradigm shift' to me means a change of what we perceive as normal and real or 'standard' would be a better word. A social paradigm can also be attributed to the creation of archetypes. Archetypes being a model, someone or something that is used as a basis for something else, a symbol understood universally. When I think of Archetypes I think of movie and book characters. There is a certain set of rules for the 'protagonist' the main character, and there are several archetypes that you can think about when creating a character and during this process some of the questions you will be asking yourself will go something like:
Is this character masculine/feminine/a bit of both
Is the character cowardly/brave/ignorant/shallow/intelligent/philosophical/over dramatic
And so on
So when it comes to paradigms the best way I can depict it is through the use of my favorite medium, comic books. What was relevant in the 1930's is no longer relevant now, a shift of mindset has come about.
When it comes to comics, covers like this are considered camp and 'cheesy' it just doesn't fly anymore. I don't know how right I would be but through the bombardment of images our minds have survived over the years we have come out expecting stories that are much more complex, characters that go beyond the 'good guy bad guy' scenario. Today many of the early characters at least from the DC Universe have evolved into complex personalities and all this is thanks to the talents of many different artists, each injecting some of their own flavor into the characters designed decades prior.
More recent superman cover :
So there you have it, and example of a paradigm shift although I have to say on a deeper level things haven't changed that much. Creators of Superman Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were poor kids growng up in America during an unforgiving time period, they created Superman because he was someone they aspired to be, and they were not alone. Even today my favorite artist David Finch states in an interview that he in some way makes a connection between him drawing 'angry men' and having a tough time in high school.